Recently he caused a bit of a stir by suggesting the Lakers amnesty Kobe Bryant, meaning cut him loose and apply the NBA’s amnesty clause, thereby ridding their payroll of his weighty contract. Bryant responded by torching the Mavs for 38 points on Sunday in an L.A. road victory, then Tweeting “Amnesty THAT” as a way of indicating how much he appreciated Cuban’s comment.
Cuban’s actual remark was rather unimportant. The real significance is how Bryant responded to a slight. Therein lies the key to the Lakers’ fortunes in this woeful but brightening season.
The Lakers this year have been bereft of that kind of attitude. Kobe has always had it inside him, of course, because he’s a fanatical competitor. But often this season it has been buried in him while he dealt with a torrent of other issues — his relationship with Dwight Howard, injuries to Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Pau Gasol, Howard’s own slow recovery from back surgery, Gasol’s confusion with his role, head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, etc.
Kobe Bryant has the same cutthroat determination that Michael Jordan had when he played. But Jordan never had to deal with so many basketball-related distractions in one single season. Sure, Jordan encountered strife — an unhappy Horace Grant, a wacky Dennis Rodman, tension with Jerry Krause — but it never piled up like it’s doing for Kobe in 2012-13. In fact, Kobe’s own 2003-04 season, when he had to deal with Laker issues as well as battle a sexual assault court case in Colorado, was far worse than anything Jordan ever had to endure.
Now, perhaps because of Cuban’s flippant comment about amnesty, Bryant is on the warpath again. That’s needed for the Lakers, and it’s trouble for teams like Cuban’s and others. At the end of it all, Cuban might want to ask for some amnesty for himself.
The fake girlfriend that just won't go away
I wonder if we’ll see the moment in the 2013 NFL season when Manti Te’o tackles his ex-girlfriend hard enough that she’s carried off the field, never to return.
I would never condone any violence against women. This is purely a symbolic observation. After all, she’s imaginary.
Right now the topic of conversation at the NFL combine when it comes to the former Notre Dame linebacker has to do with the whole imaginary girlfriend brouhaha, and really it’s a crushing bore. There’s only so much fuel available for an imaginary girlfriend scandal. After all, she’s imaginary.
After the combine and the draft, though, the topic will still be fresh in the minds of meatheads who will taunt the guy over it. And frankly he’ll have to withstand a few jabs from his own teammates.
Yet there will come a moment when Te’o can erase some of that by making a great play. He’s capable. He did it all season long, until the Alabama game, when he didn’t.
That’s the real issue. That’s where the focus on Manti Te’o eventually should be. Will he be able to excel at the NFL level and establish an identity with his football skills? Will he be so noticeable as a defensive leader that the specter of his imaginary girlfriend disappears?
It’s hard to believe that a woman who doesn’t exist is so difficult to get rid of.
Clowney taking a year off wouldn't be wise
A debate has erupted over the issue of whether South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney should skip this coming season of college football and wait until it’s time for his class to be eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft. Many feel he has nothing to gain by playing in 2013, and everything to lose if he experiences a major injury.
I understand and can’t argue. Presumably he would have an insurance policy to cover himself if he did play college football in 2013, but that’s not the same as having a long and productive NFL career.
I would just like to add one word to the discussion: Momentum.
There’s little doubt Clowney would be able to stay in shape if he took an entire year off. So I’m sure he’d be physically ready for the 2014 NFL Combine when it rolls around.
This may be apples and oranges, but it’s somewhat akin to an NBA team that finishes off a playoff opponent and then has a lengthy wait until the next round. In that case, the lull is usually only about seven to 10 days at the most, yet rust can accumulate. With Clowney, we’re looking at a whole year of inactivity.
If he did take a year off, he’d face a lot of combine questions like “Why didn’t you want to compete?” His answers might determine whether he indeed is selected among the top three, or if he drops because of a perceived attitude problem or a lack of passion.
So I get the concern about Clowney playing in 2013. But if I were him, I’d be concerned about not playing.
That wasn't OKKK
Sorry in advance to give additional play to a story that has received way too much play, but here goes:
In Sioux Falls, S.D., three students who attended a high school hockey playoff game donned KKK-style robes for a brief period, then took them off when others nearby complained that it was offensive.
Granted, it couldn’t be more offensive to put on those hoods. It’s disgusting, actually.
But let’s examine what happened here:
There were lots of people in the stands for the state hockey semifinal game involving Red River High. Most of them are probably very nice. Three morons spoiled the occasion.
So now, because of the irresponsible actions of three insensitive dopes, the school is getting national scrutiny. It speaks to the power of social media and the Internet more than the magnitude of the problem.
Apparently there was a “white out” called for at the game, referring to fans’ attire, and these buffoons decided to contribute in their own brainless way. The incident lasted an estimated 30 seconds to a minute, but the memory will linger longer than that, thanks to saturation coverage of a tiny blip on the national radar from a remote corner of the country.
The message is clear: Don’t do anything stupid. The margin of error is slimmer than it’s ever been.
A game of pepper:
Michael Ventre is a regular contributor to NBCSports.com. Follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/MichaelVentre44
PBT: LeBron James created self-imposed pressure to win "not two, not three, not four" titles. Thus, should the Heat's title chase fail, it's his legacy that will take the hit.
PBT: All season long, the Heat have largely coasted, only turning up their intensity when facing elimination. That won't be good enough in Game 6 tonight.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
Bosh: 'We'll see who hits first'
Heat forward Chris Bosh talks about what could be a very physical Game 6 stating, 'hit them in the mouth, throat and their eyes'. Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra says the opposing Spurs 'attack you.. but we do the same thing'.
Latest from ProBasketballTalk
Expect to see some Birdman back in Heat rotation Tuesday1 hr 35 min ago
Report: Ben McLemore was out of shape for recent workouts2 hr 20 min ago
Chris Bosh says Heat need to “hit them in the mouth” (VIDEO)2 hr 39 min ago
Is Game 6 a must-win for the Spurs?4 hr 20 min ago
Get your NBA cheer on
Check out some of the dancers from the NBA.